In this unit we will examine the politics and political system of the United States of America. The unit focuses on the following two general themes; normative political principles and their application in the United States, and key institutions and their operation. Studying the United States is important for two reasons. Firstly, because the United States is perhaps the most powerful state in the international system and a key ally of Australia, understanding how politics works in the US is of great practical importance to us. Secondly, the American model of politics is important in its own right. The founding of the US Constitution created one of the earliest democratic political systems of the modern era. Since then, peoples and states around the world have built upon the "American model" when constructing their own constitutions and political systems. It is important that we have comparative models that help us understand political systems and contrast them to political models around the world.

Unit details

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ASP2007 - Dictatorship and Democracy

ASP2010 - Origins of International Politics

ASP2011 - Foundations of Political Science

Students enrolled in course code ABAB or LBLA must have completed two of the following units ASP2007 Dictatorship and Democracy, ASP2010 Origins of International Politics and ASP2011 Foundations of Political Science.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Interrogate the normative challenges that emerged in the context of the formation of the political system of the United States of America;  
  2. Critique the institutional design of the federal government of the USA in light of the normative challenges faced in the context of its formation;  
  3. Critically review literature related to the field of American government; and  
  4. Articulate persuasive arguments in response to problems associated with normative theory and institutional design as relevant to the political system of the USA.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Other Online assessment (VU Collaborate) 10%
Annotated Bibliography Annotated Bibliograpgy 15%
Essay Essay based on normative analysis (2000 words) 45%
Presentation Presentation (Group) 30%

Required reading

Perspectives on American Government 1st/2nd
Jillson C. and Robertson D. B. 2010/2014
London and New York: Routledge

Where to next?

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